South Georgia Marine Protected Area—A Conservation Win

South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands have decided to extend their Marine Protected Area as well as expand no-take zones.

The sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia has experienced astonishing restoration efforts over the years. Chief among them, the removal of invasive rats which has allowed the island’s biodiversity and native wildlife to recover. Island Conservation’s GIS and Data Manager, David Will assisted the South Georgia Heritage Trust in the prepration and implementation of the project.

David Will on South Georgia. Credit: Island Conservation

Now conservationists are celebrating a huge win for marine conservation, as the Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (GSGSSI) have decided to expand their Marine Protected Area (MPA) across the entirety of its 1.24km2 maritime zone. This is great news and provides renewed hope for the astonishing marine biodiversity present here.

The expansion, known as the Grytviken Conservation Management Plan, will also be expanding no-take zones, which are closed to all commercial fishing, to cover 23% (284,000 km2) of the MPA. An area this large greatly exceeds the size of the United Kingdom! In conjunction with these fantastic new developments, Antarctic krill fishing will be limited to the months of May through September with the intention of curbing potential competition between fishing and seals and penguins which are common krill predators. 

After an incredibly successful pilot program, the biosecurity detector dog program will be extended. The dogs were trained to assist in the detection of invasive rats and mice on vessels headed for South Georgia. This has helped prevent rodents from re-invading the area and is a common practice to ensure the success of invasive species removal. Finn the Wonder Dog, famously helped Island Conservation to confirm the removal of rabbits on Choros and Chanaral Islands in Chile. He has now retired to Santa Cruz.

Finn the Wonder Dog! Credit: Island Conservation

Thanks to these new conservation measures and recent restoration efforts, it looks like South Georgia is on a path towards a bright future.

Source: Government of South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands
Featured Photo: Sunset over South Georgia. Credit: Island Conservation

About Stephanie Dittrich

Stephanie Dittrich is a current senior in Environmental Studies at UC Santa Cruz and a transfer student from De Anza College. She is also currently pursuing a Certificate of Achievement in Geospatial Technologies and a second Associates Degree in Graphic Design from Foothill College. She has worked in multiple marketing and design focused roles at environmental nonprofits as well as the Genomics Institute at UC Santa Cruz. She just finished spending 3 months in Costa Rica conducting field work where she did an independent research project and wrote a scientific paper about flight response time in the Morpho peleides butterfly. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys working on creative photography and design projects, often centered around wildlife photography, as well as more experimental and contemporary subject matter.

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